“Indie-pop troubadour,” “one-man rock & roll band,” and “workhorse multi-instrumentalist” are all accurate descriptions of John Brodeur. Since announcing his arrival with 2001′s Tiger Pop, the NYC-based singer-songwriter has released a series of critically praised solo LPs, fronted two bands (the Suggestions and Maggie Mayday), and toured the nation extensively, both on his own and as a member of numerous bands (including the Morning After Girls, Soren Well, and Hector on Stilts). Following a successful campaign to fund the 2011 reissue/re-recording of Tiger Pop, Brodeur is again teaming with PledgeMusic to bring his latest collection, Little Hopes, to fans in early 2013. With sounds that run the gamut, from Beatlesque acoustic confessionals (“Daily Affirmation”) to locomotive guitar rock (“One Man Army”) to lush, orchestral pop (“Dig”), Little Hopes is an honest cross-section of the artist’s distinctive musical palette, and Brodeur’s most surprising record to date.
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New York musician John Brodeur has made a reputation as a talented recording artist, composer of first-class alternative pop songs, and a restless multi-instrumentalist. On April 5, 2011, John released Tiger Pop Ten, a 2-CD set featuring a newly recorded version of his debut album coupled with a 10th-anniversary reissue of the original disc. (The albums are available individually as digital downloads.) In the spring that followed, John set out on his first cross-country solo tour, a 55-date juggernaut with stops in all four corners of the U.S.
Released at the beginning of 2001, Tiger Pop was performed entirely by Brodeur, a true one-man-band effort in a time before everyone with a laptop could make that claim. The album’s pop smarts and try-anything production style caught the notice of the national media, including Performing Songwriter magazine, who gushed “Pop records like this may be scarce, but when they are of this caliber, they won’t remain under the radar for long.”
The newly recorded Tiger Pop Ten sprung from a long-running “what if” between Brodeur and the members of his longtime band, the Suggestions. “Keith (Hosmer, bass) and Jay (Schultz, drums) and I would often kid around about re-recording Tiger Pop,” says Brodeur. “Having a rhythm section behind the tunes gave them a new life. Some grooved differently, while others sounded like entirely different songs. To cut a new version of the record would have been cost-prohibitive but it was an attractive idea—it certainly appealed to the part of me that doesn’t know how to settle on ‘finished.’” The idea was toyed with, briefly, when the Suggestions re-cut “Changing Your Mind (Again?)” for their Mix Tape EP. Says Brodeur, “I joked that we would redo the full album someday for the ‘Platinum Edition’ of Tiger Pop, and that was that.”
The Suggestions split in 2007, after a few years of low activity. Brodeur’s second solo album, Get Through, started as a Suggestions project in 2004, didn’t receive a proper release until 2009. (The Big Takeover magazine called it “a fantastic collection of classic guitar pop.”) Another Brodeur band, Maggie Mayday, came and went in the intervening years. He spent much of the second half of the decade earning the “Iron Man” tag, serving as drummer for as many as five bands at one time, and producing and recording with a number of artists in his native Albany, New York.
By 2010, Tiger Pop had been out of print for nearly five years. Brodeur had already planned to reissue the album for its tenth birthday, and set the process in motion by setting up a campaign through fund-raising website PledgeMusic.com. The original plan was to simply tack a few lost tracks and new recordings onto the original disc. “I had always wanted to try adding string accompaniment to a few tunes, especially ‘Masterpiece,’ which wasn’t originally on Tiger Pop but was written just as the album was completed.” (The song was first recorded for the Mix Tape EP.)
Over the course of a few months, the Suggestions, now living in three different cities, decided to reconvene in upstate New York to play a show and record a couple tracks for the reissue. “We got on a roll,” says Brodeur. “I left town a few days later with eight songs all but finished.” Shortly thereafter, Brodeur reassembled his other main band of recent years, Maggie Mayday, at a studio in New York City, and recorded the remaining three Tiger Pop songs in one afternoon. Composer-pianist Adrian Cohen volunteered to provide string arrangements and some piano, while several friends and acquaintances were called on to add color to the project. Engineer and former Kamikaze Hearts member Troy Pohl mixed and mastered the record.
Tiger Pop Ten is, then, a logical bookend to Brodeur’s first 10 years as a solo artist: From the DIY indie-pop aesthetic of the debut release, through a series of aborted band projects, and back again with a fresh perspective and the participation of friends. “It’s a celebration of the musical and personal relationships that went into it,” Brodeur says. “As indulgent as it seems, it’s in no way meant as a replacement for the original record. It just so happened that we were able to make this quickly and cheaply, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
John Brodeur has shared the stage with bands like Fountains of Wayne, the Whigs, They Might Be Giants, Pernice Brothers, the Bravery, O.A.R., and Rooney; and singer-songwriters including Gavin Degraw, Greg Laswell, Glenn Tilbrook, and Freedy Johnston. In addition to making his own records, Brodeur has lent his musical talents to Soren Well, Luke Rathborne, Patrick Bower and the World Without Magic, Silver Rockets, Luther Russell, and many more.